Editor’s Letter: Black Lives Matter Founders Are This Year’s Beacon Award Honorees

From hashtag activism to global movement

(L. to r.) Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, founders of Black Lives Matter, are the honorees of this year's Beacon Award. Erik Carter for Adweek
Headshot of Lisa Granatstein


There is perhaps no better example of a 21st century global movement than Black Lives Matter. What began in 2013 as a hashtag response to the shooting death in Florida of Trayvon Martin grew into a decentralized grassroots network whose mission was to protest against anti-Black racism and police violence.

“When I hashtagged #BlackLivesMatter, I knew that I wanted it to go viral across social media,” Patrisse Cullors told Adweek contributor Shannon Miller as part of an in-depth conversation with BLM’s founders. “But I especially knew that I wanted it to be something that would change the world.”

And it is. With the police killing in May of George Floyd, and the pandemic disproportionally impacting the Black community, BLM became the rallying cry heard around the world, with marches in Rome, Madrid, Paris, Toronto, New Zealand and elsewhere. Countless brand marketers also have vocalized their support, with Nike, Amazon, Airbnb and others donating to the foundation.

For our second annual Beacon Award, in partnership with Adcolor, we are honored to bestow this year’s award to BLM’s founders: Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. The award celebrates public figures who wield their influence to be a force for change in the quest for diversity, equity and inclusion.

BLM’s founders will join additional honorees at the 14th annual Adcolor Awards. Founded by Tiffany R. Warren, Adcolor celebrates and promotes DEI achievements in the marketing, media and entertainment space. Due to Covid-19, the awards are rebranded as Adcolor Everywhere and will be held virtually Sept. 8-10.

Speaking of great marketing moments: We’re just two weeks away from our own reimagined virtual Brandweek event. Scheduled to run Sept. 14-17, Brandweek Masters Live will celebrate this year’s class of Brand Genius honorees, many of whom will appear on stage, including Walmart chief customer officer Janey Whiteside and P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard. We also will be hearing from our Brand Visionary—actor and entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds, whose marketing savvy just helped sell Aviation Gin for a whopping $600 million to Diageo—as well as our Brand Save honoree Bryan Stevenson, founder of the formidable Equal Justice Initiative.

Be sure to register for Adcolor and Brandweek Masters Live.

This story first appeared in the Aug. 31, 2020, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@lgranatstein lisa.granatstein@adweek.com Lisa Granatstein is the editor, svp, programming at Adweek.
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